The Quiet Centre at the Heart of Me

 

Last week I was ruminating on my Pinball Brain, but this week my focus is on my Quiet Centre. I’m actually writing these two blogs on the same day, just minutes apart. You’ll get them a week apart, but they are deeply connected.

At the same time as I’m living with my Pinball Brain, I also am in touch with a quietness that pervades my inner world. I’m very still inside myself these days. One day I sat at my abandoned art table and got out one of my creative books to see if it would stimulate me. As I read, the author described pictures emerging from within her. I realized that one of the reasons my art table is abandoned, is that there are no pictures emerging within me. When I started about ten years ago to intentionally learn to draw and paint, there were pictures that were emerging within me, but now there are no pictures. It’s not time to create at my table. It’s time to be quiet.

Not only are there no pictures within me, there are no lessons to teach, illustrations to share, sermons to preach, or ideas for groups. That’s a huge change for me. Since my call to ministry in 1990 I’ve regularly had a flow from within for teaching. I’m very quiet in my central core right now. I continue to hold that sense that God has lifted my gifting from me and I’m to be still. It’s unfamiliar, uncomfortable and beautiful at the same time.

No pictures, no lessons and there’s also no leadership initiative within me. I read leadership books and can feel the old stirring, but then it subsides again. I return to the quiet place.

The quiet place at my centre reaches out and touches so many parts of my life. I have no desire to be in groups, workshops, retreats or services. I’m still resting in the depth of what I experienced during my Sabbath Leave.

At my core is quietness and yet I live with a Pinball Brain.

That’s me for now. How are you?

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

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Stillness

I’ve been drawn to the experience of stillness in the last while. A few times I’ve been aware of the invitation in prayer to be still after I leave the prayer time. I’m not to get caugstone and sand for stillness and actionht up in the busy conversations, the decisions that seem to need to be made, the city whirl. I’m to learn to be still. It’s partly emerged out of my attraction to the True Self work. I’ve experienced an inner stillness even when around me, it feels like chaos. It results in me feeling like I’m more myself, simpler, deeper, less pretentious, less a lot of things!

But it doesn’t mean I’m physically still. I’m still to be moving, but from a place of stillness. It doesn’t mean I don’t make any decisions, just that they’re to come from a still place.  A recent tag line on my email account was: Be still, be very, very still. And the I added to it: Be still and still moving.

As this was happening within me, one of our Companions inchild image for stillness and action

Contemplative Fire told me about a message he’d received during a Quaker Meeting. Ps 46 is often quoted, “Be still and know that I am God.” The speaker noted that the psalm said to be still, not to be silent. That is so much in alignment with what I’m learning. To be still doesn’t mean to be silent or not taking action. It means to be still within our soul, to be still and listening and knowing and being formed and guided by God’s Spirit.

In Contemplative Fire, part of our Rhythm is ‘Across the Threshold’. That refers to being led by the Spirit of God, perhaps into unfamiliar places. As with all our leaves, that one too is rooted in the central Wordless Space, in the deep stillness of God. We also talk about the Silence of God, about God’s first voice being silence. We become still within, listening to God’s silence and from the still, silent space we are formed and hear our life’s words and actions. How intriguing is that!  Out of stillness and silence come words and action and oh… those words and actions smell, feel so different from the ones that come out of my busyness!

What is your experience of stillness? Physical stillness? Interior stillness? Do you run from it, brush it off, find it impossible, or never consider it! How have you experienced the different sources of your words and actions?

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Contemplative Fire , Community Leader Canada

Mystic in Motion

Relax, Trust in the Slow Work of God

What do you do with souvenirs that you bring home from your trips? The crazy Hawaiian shirt that looked so good …., the shells and rocks, the coffee mugs and plates, the masks and carvings, the maps and guides and of course the photos! What do you do with your trip memories, the ways you’ve been shaped from your adventure that took you out of your ordinary routines?

Sometimes I lie in bed and pull my Sabbath Leave memories over me, so they are wrapping me like a blanket to keep my soul warm, tender and willing to show up. I would love to share my memories with others, but I usually find that most aren’t too interested. We seldom want to sit for long and look at photos of a trip someone took to some place with some people other than ourselves!

But I’ll share one keepsake with you. The title of this blog probably sums up the work of my leave: Relax, Anne. Trust in the slow work of God. I can’t say it often enough. I do say it frequently as I re-enter community life. It aligns really well with our Rhythm of Life: Travelling Lightly and Dwelling Deeply. Again and again I return to it – relax, be at ease, move lightly through life, for God is at work, in the depths God is there, with the Presence of Love guiding the movements. I can be so impatient, so eager to make things happen. My sabbath leave was full of what I’ll call ‘Moments of Encounter’, times when I know so clearly there IS a God, a Divine Presence within all there is. I am to relax, trust in the slow work of God. God’s speed is often very slow – at least by Anne’s schedule! And that’s okay. That’s what I’m learning and what I bring home from my Sabbath Leave. Thanks for listening.

Love and prayers on our journey

Anne

Community Leader Contemplative Fire Canada

Be Still, Be Very, Very Still

I’ve just returned from an eight-day Centering Prayer retreat. Of course we spent hours being still, very, very still! One of the beauties of it for me was our location. We were on Long Beach in New Jersey. As we sit being still, very, very still, the Atlantic Ocean is relentlessly pounding away on the shoreline. I love the picture of God’s relentless love washing onto the shores of our souls, never, ever stopping, and at the same time God’s presence as stillness and silence from the ocean depth. A surging ocean containing a still point. Constant noise and deep silence. All within one.

It was one more wonderful week. Held within our hours of communal prayer, I spent much time walking the beach and pondering my way forward. I’m coming to the end this week of three months of Retreat in Daily Life. I feel like I’ve been gifted with three months on the mountain top. I am aware I will be coming down. Or sort of aware…..

I’ve called myself “Mystic in Motion”, but I feel now there is less motion in me. The different pace of life, the Retreat in Daily Life discipline, the three retreat weeks, and the month on Cortes have slowed me down considerably. I’ve been in search of a sustainable life and I’ve certainly experienced it in these three months. I’ve lived into the core life of Contemplative Fire –prayer/study/action or slow down, listen to God and then live from what you hear. I’ve deepened my practice of slowing down and listening, yet I know there is still much more for me to learn there. And I’ve heard more guidance on living from what I hear. I know there is much more to experience there. I hear the call to have the ‘motion’ be moment to moment led by the surging stillness of God.

How still can you be?  Physically we can try to sit very still, yet perhaps feel the urge to twitch, scratch or shift positions. How about your emotions? Can you be aware of them and see what their energy level is like in this moment? Are they jumpy or deeply flowing? And then of course there is our mind and that torrent of thoughts! For most of us, those thoughts love to rush around, pushing each other out, repeating themselves, a relentless driving noise like the city’s churning. How still can you be? Take a moment and try it!

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Returning

During one of our cottage summers we had two dogs with us, Timmy, a five year old Golden Retriever and Major, an eight month old Labrador Retriever. The dogs had the best summer ever! Running in the forest, digging at the beach, swimming endlessly, catching frogs, and playing with the children – it simply doesn’t get any better for a retriever! The first week home, they lay in the middle of the kitchen and looked at me with mopey, sad eyes. What – back here again? Returning.

Last week I returned to Toronto from my month on Cortes. I felt a bit like Timmy and Major. Really? Back again to concrete and asphalt, to close tiny lots, to the relentless strum of the city, to the human energy of city density? Really? There were a few people I thought I’d be in touch with on my return and I simply wasn’t able to do it. I needed some time being a retriever ‘lying on my kitchen floor with mopey eyes’.

It is so easy for me to move from the roar of Toronto to Cortes. It’s virtually instantaneous. I feel it happening on ferry #2 as we cross from Quadra to Cortes and the slowing down continues with each day I’m there. It’s much tougher for me to return to bustle. Something in me resists re-entering the relentless roar.

Whenever we have a wonderful experience, one we want to treasure, how do we re-enter our ‘normal’ life while retaining the goodness we’ve experienced? It could be returning from a holiday, a retreat, a concert, an engaging conversation or an engrossing book –  any number of soul touching experiences. How do we do it well?

Two Returning Principles: First, for me I recognize I’m doing it slowly, respecting my interior life while also respecting the world I’m in. I value living in the present moment so that entails not dwelling on the past, or worrying of the future, but being open to now. I’m open to the concrete and roar with a soul that has been formed by spaciousness and beauty for the past month. Second, I continue to live with the awareness that my life is more than my own. I’m responsible for it AND I have said ‘yes’ to Jesus directing my life. Once again John 21.6 and the fishing command has spoken into my life. I don’t want to live from my own driven needs (got to go fishing), but under the direction of God’s Spirit. So, I cope with returning slowly and gently, continuing to honor some core values from it.

How are your returning times? Bumpy? Irritable? Sacrificial? In what way do you lose the goodness you experienced? What helps you retain the goodness?

I leave on Sunday for the last of my silent retreat weeks. I’ve chosen to do something a bit different on this one. Although still silent, it will be in a community with a particular focus. I hope to deepen the flow of God’s loving and compassionate presence through me. Again, you remain in my prayers and I appreciate yours as I travel and immerse myself in a week of prayer. Both weeks in March and April were strong, deep and a lot of work. I wonder what this one will bring.

Love and prayers on the journey

Anne

Mystic in Motion

 

Sabbath Leave Perspective

For April, while I’m on Cortes, I’ve been praying with ‘Earth Gospel’ by Sam Hamilton-Poore. One day he offered a quote from Wayne Muller which described so clearly what has underpinned my Sabbath leave that I want to share it with you. I’m also very grateful to a colleague/friend who asked me if I was taking a Sabbatical or a Sabbath leave. A very helpful question for me. Without hesitation I said, “Sabbath!” I think Wayne describes why. I hope you enjoy and slowly ponder his thoughts.

In the trance of overwork, we take everything for granted. We consume things, people and information. We do not have time to savor this life, nor to care deeply and gently for ourselves, our loved ones, or our world; rather, with increasingly dizzying haste, we use them up, and throw them away….

Sabbath time can be a revolutionary challenge to the violence of overwork, mindless accumulation, and the endless multiplication of desires, responsibilities, and accomplishments. Sabbath is a way of being in time where we remember who we are, remember what we know, and taste the gifts of spirit and eternity.  ~ Wayne Muller

Love and prayers on the journey
Anne
Mystic in Motion

Leaving the Yurt

Life in a circle
Darkness surrounds
Seals barking before dawn
Daybreak emerges
Whispering winds
Waterfall of rain
Four Dancing Cedars
Surprised by a brook
Slow growing trees
Aroma of earth giving birth
Sunset glazing the green forest
Darkness before the next dawn returns
Embraced
Life in a circle

Just leaving after ten delightful days in a very special yurt tucked in the north end of Cortes. Seven of the days were spent in solitude and silence communing with creation and her Creator. A deep and wonderful encounter with God who cares so deeply for us. I’m humbled and grateful for my time here. I know I’ll never be the same. Must I leave?

May you find some time to behold God in the natural beauty around you.

Love and prayers
Anne
Mystic in Motion…. (hmmm a bit less motion now!)

Off to the Yurt!

Tomorrow I leave the Lagoon and move to the north end of the island for ten days in a yurt. There’s no electricity or running water and certainly no internet so I’ll check back in when I emerge. But the yurt looks very attractive and they promise lots of forest, ocean and stillness. After Easter, I’ll enter another week of solitude and silence, from April 17-23. Please pray for me. Although I love the solitude and silence, it can still be very challenging.

What else has been happening? ……

My city genes kicked in today. It was amazing, and a bit scary, to watch. I was driving and stopped at the end of my lane, getting ready to go on the main road. I saw a car coming but there was ‘space’ for me so I zipped out. As soon as I’d done it I realized I was city driving! There were no other cars on the road. I didn’t need to rush into a space! Wow. City driving is in my genes. I told my daughter and her roommate the story and they both laughed right away – yes, that was city driving!

On the 2nd Sunday of the month a priest comes from Campbell River to offer a service. I attended last Sunday and agreed to offer an Easter celebration if anyone was interested. One person was most eager so it might be the two of us. She plays flute and harp so will provide some special music for us. I hear word spreading around the island that something is happening, so maybe a few others will join us. One person said they’d bring flowers and someone else said, “Will there be food?” Sounds like Easter is happening this year.

But it is so different from being in a city. For Holy Week, there are no services, no meditation times, no special music, nothing for Good Friday. We’ll jump from Palm Sunday to Easter. How can we do that? But I realize that for many people who attend Easter all over the world, they come just for that one day and it’s the norm, but it’s not what I’m used to.  For Holy Week, it’s Jesus and me. We’re going through the week together. We’ve cleaned the temple, taught those who would listen, wept over the people, smelled the oil and received the anointing, felt the resistance of many and the receptivity of some. It’s just the two of us. And maybe that’s okay. Keep my eyes on him, not the dressing that we, as church, put on the week. It’s difficult, the pull to the familiar rituals and prayers is there, in my genes like city driving! But there are other ways to live, slower, more spacious ways and just being with Jesus is okay.

Take care… see you the other side Easter

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Caught In A Moment In Time

From the time I first met this island six years ago, it has been special to me. I’m convinced there is a healing presence on the island. Time seems to slow down. Is it just the removal of traffic lights, the intermittent Wi-Fi, or the custom of waving to any car that passes you on the road? Maybe, but I think it’s the dominance of the trees. They gang up on us humans and call us to live at their pace!

Yesterday as I sat at the edge of lagoon in front of my cabin, I was aware of all the different time measurements around me. The past was in front of me. The original family that homesteaded this inlet in the 1940’s had left the remnants of a long unused dock in shallows. The future was fifty yards away as I could hear the two little children Emma, four years old and Anna, a year old playing in the garden. The antiquity of our earth was before me in the ocean waters, rocks and forests. Eternity was overhead in a clear sky reaching into the galaxies of our universe. And I was there in that very moment, breathing, grateful to be a part of it all. Past, future, eternal and present.

Nothing quite like it. Don’t let the time slip away! May you drive in the slow lane today.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

A New Perspective on Living Water

I’m living beside living water. At low tide, I can walk across the lagoon in about 20 minutes. Imagine a small lake with two small islands in the centre and you’d have the general image. Oh, and did I mention the three stunning cedars outside my door, the strong rock cliffs on either side of our inlet and of course the surrounding host of delightful trees, each one perfect in being ‘tree’…..

Last night I arrived at low tide. This morning I woke just at dawn, able to welcome the day and see high tide. The water before me rises and falls daily, monthly. It is alive. It’s given me a new sense to the phrase ‘living water’. This living water is connected to the source of water on our earth, the ocean. I’m in Desolation Sound, part of the flow of water around Vancouver Island and connected to the Pacific Ocean. (How strange it seems for ‘us’ to have ‘named’ the bodies of water and bits of land on our earth. If we name them, surely, we need to care for them. We are responsible for them as we’d be for an animal we name and take into our homes. – but that’s another thought!).

My living water rises and falls according to the inner rhythm of the ocean and moon. Jesus calls himself Living Water and says that we too have a fountain of living water within us. Yes we do! His Spirit, the Spirit of God is within me, within each one of us and I can know the movement of his living water. Sometimes it rises up high and I feel the flow of the warm embrace, the awareness of each moment, the connectedness with all. Other times it seems to flow out and I can feel the receding, the need to pull back a bit, to move even more slowly. But whether the tide of my life rises or falls I know I’m always connected to the source of all, to the Pacific Ocean of my life, to the Ocean of All.

Living Water. Drink deeply of the living water and you’ll never be thirsty again. Where are you now? Rising tide or falling tide? May you know your Ocean Connection!

Drink Deeply

Anne

Mystic in Motion